Last week, LaVallee Reeve Lucille MacDonald and councillors Badiuk, Loshaw, and Hyatt attended the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) conference in Thunder Bay. MacDonald was more than happy to share the things she learned at the three-day event (April 26-28). She said taxpayers have a right to know why elected officials are attending such meetings. This is the first time that 40 per cent of a council is brand new — not only in the Rainy River District, but across Ontario. The theme for the conference was “New Beginning From Lessons Learned.” Many discussions took place with speakers giving the latest information on a wide range of topics like cyber attacks in municipalities; using CANOE to make municipal purchases; roles of council and administration; green, net-zero buildings; municipal planning related to climate change; and an invasive species of weed found at least as far as Marathon. There was lots of discussion about numerous accidents with transport trucks and the Ministry of Transportation responded to concern during the panel discussions with the ministers. The conference involved a presentation on nuclear waste being transported to Ignace. MacDonald said she understands a decision on the matter is expected by fall 2024. The conference also included touring a net-zero building at the university. The foremost thing MacDonald shared with me about NOMA is that the overall lesson was that council governs through policies, bylaws, and resolutions. Staff is responsible for day-to-day operations. Staff does not take orders directly from members of the council. Direction is provided at council meetings through the CAO/clerk-treasurer who is the only employee that answers directly to council.